The Week Behind: Giving It My Best

The Week Behind: Giving It My Best

Saturday:  I slept as long as I needed to this morning and it was refreshing.  Breakfast was a simple one of toasted Banana Nut Bread spread with Peanut Butter.  I enjoyed that with my coffee and tea.

I had no real meal plans coming into this weekend beyond having determined that we'd thaw the 'Gramma's fried Chicken' for Taylor and I'd add in some chicken 'fillets' that are actually frozen tenders from Aldi.  That would save us needing to purchase extra chicken to feed us all on Sunday.  

John got a call from Sam asking him to please come mow his grass as he'd gotten started and the mower broke down again.  Sam was anxious to get the pool up and in place for the boys but couldn't do it until the grass was mowed.  John was happy enough to go off to do it and I watched him go.  This past week he's been asked to do things with or for someone else three times.  I've enjoyed the wee bits of time alone at home to get in little jobs that have been niggling at me.  

Typically we do no work on a Sabbath but we're relaxing our stance a little.  Today while John was off I went to work on refreshing my mantel and living room wall.  I've been dissatisfied with my living room for weeks now but couldn't find a thing in the shed to help freshen things up.  Having struck out at the Goodwill and not interested in paying higher prices for things that 'would do' elsewhere, I had to look at the living room all over again and determine to use what I have.  Well it turned out rather nice and while there are still a thing or three I'd love to change or do differently, it's a good start.

As you can tell by the heater being lit this was winter's mantel. I'm afraid it was not even this nice for spring/summer.

My final attempt this afternoon.  I'm so much happier with it all than I'd been.

I cooked some chicken breasts I'd thawed early in the week and made BBQ chicken.  I also had cooked rice in the refrigerator and used the last of the green cabbage to make a batch of slaw.  Supper wasn't pretty but it was good enough.

Sunday:  I've been thinking again...I think I'm going back to shopping weekly for groceries.  I'll obviously need to change how I divide my grocery allowance.  We've done fine with the once a month shopping for the most part but I miss sales and sometimes when we're in stores and I see an especially good bargain I can't get it.  The money is spent.  If I do go ahead then I run my budget out of whack which means we tend to have an 'oh well' attitude and continue to spend here and there on things we don't need.  And then we must adjust in other areas.  That old saying of robbing Peter to pay Paul is soooo true.

So each week I've been looking over the major stores where we tend to shop and noting sales.  There was a good sale on Publix leg quarters.  Not the lowest price I've seen but a good enough sale on them and they are Carrageenan free, all important to me.  And sodas also were on sale.  John does like his can of soda most days and since it's his thing I look for the best price we can get on it.  I decided since we needed to pick up a prescription I'd take advantage of those sales.

But it made me think harder about the fact that I am missing good sales on items we typically use when our month is no where near ended and the money is gone.  So I asked John how he felt about my moving to a weekly shop and why I wanted to do so.  He doesn't care really so long as I stay on budget overall.

After church we went in to Publix...The real struggle is not to pick up sundry items that I wasn't planning to purchase.  John immediately gravitated to the vegetarian baked beans on sale.  Yes it was a good sale and while Aldi actually has a good quality one when we can find it it's often as much or more for those.  The key words being "when we can find it"  Coke, baked beans...I mean seriously he could have worse vices!

There was none of the sale priced leg quarters in the case.  I tracked down a butcher who very nicely marked down some of the packets in the meat case even though they weren't in ten pound lots.  I got three packages.  I have no idea how much in pounds as he chose the three packets and I just happily took them at 69c a pound.  Two cans of baked beans, two bottles of $1 BBQ sauce (suspect that was cheaper at Aldi as well but John thought it a good price) and three 12 packs of soda. Oh yes, and two mini pies that cost about what it would to make one.  No complaints on that.  No prescription.  The pharmacy was not meant to open until 11 and it wasn't quite 10am.  My total at that store was $36.  I noted to self that would be very near half what I'd meant to spend a week.

Home to dig to the very bottom of the deep freezer and pull out the last of the corn on the cob from last year.  I'd promised John two weeks ago that next Gramma's Fried Chicken Sunday we'd have mashed potatoes and corn on the cob.  I used the last of the corn, the last of the potatoes and made a squash casserole from squash I'd cooked earlier last week and didn't use.  I only had 6 pieces of chicken, so cooked a bag of Aldi chicken tenders to give us more.  I'd thought we'd have another person with us at lunch and we didn't.

We had a lovely time with Taylor and Katie here for lunch.  Later, in the early evening, Katie and Chad brought the baby out for me to watch while he and Katie did some target practice over at Sam's.  I think everyone in my family is looking towards deer hunting this fall to help stock freezers.  Even John has gone out to shoot which is something he's not done in all the years I've known him.

Tomorrow, I will be "gathering up my fragments", aka cleaning out the fridge and looking to see what items I need to use up.  I'll start my meal planning there first.  I also need to cut up the leg quarters and package that meat up.  I want to plant some of the flower seeds to give my flower bed a boost.  

Monday:  I didn't do all I'd thought I might today.  I underestimated the amount of work in the house/kitchen as well as how very warm it is once it's gone 9am these days.  I'm not quite finished yet, but I at least made a good hard try at giving this day my best.  I am giving myself grace as often as I can these days and sleeping until I naturally waken.  Usually that is somewhere close to 8am.  This morning I think it was about 7:30.  

I started work right away by stripping the bed and the bathroom of things that needed to be washed and then putting on my clothes.  Even if I do not take time to shower at the start of the day, and I usually don't if I mean to work outdoors, I have found that dressing equals an added motivation to get to work once I've had my coffee and Bible Study.  

This morning I was especially keen for Bible study.  In March, just before all the social isolation business started, a friend was diagnosed with cancer and his prognosis was very good.  Last night we saw a message that he was placed in hospice and his family had gathered with him.  He had beat the cancer but the toll chemo took on him was too much.  He was younger than myself, so it was especially difficult to hear that news.   It's hard when you lose younger friends.  It's hard to know that his wife will be missing someone who was her own best friend, especially when you understand that sentiment, as I do with John.  It's hard to know his granddaughters will not remember him as they are so very young and that the future children will never know him at all.  

I hung clothes on the line and fed the pets while John fried eggs to go with our muffins.  That was about when I made up my mind that planting anything this morning wasn't going to happen.  It was muggy hot and I have the residue of a migraine which is aggravated by the bright light.  Nope.  No planting today.  But can I say that despite all this typical summer weather, there's something extremely satisfying and peaceful about hanging clothes on the line to dry.  Personally I think folding clothes is the second best part about doing laundry.

After our breakfast I went to work picking up the house, which was more than I'd thought it might be.  I made our bed and then headed back to the kitchen which was surely the biggest disaster of all.  I tossed the runner that goes in front of the sink into the washer.  I'd noted last week it looked pretty grungy and then yesterday just as I got to the sink with half a glass of Gatorade in hand, I dropped it and it went all over the rug.  

I straightened the kitchen and wiped off counters.  That little sentence is so simple to type.  I straightened the kitchen and wiped off counters...Like there was nothing to it.  In fact, it took me nearly an hour and a half!  I had to empty the dishwasher in order to reload it.  I had to rinse the dishes but couldn't until the sinks were empty.  I didn't want to put clean dishes on dirty counters so I wiped off the counters.  I took out sundry things that had no place in the kitchen.  So yeah, that took time.

And then it was time to tackle the real tasks for today: Gathering the fragments and cutting up and freezing the chicken leg quarters we bought yesterday.

First I cleared the refrigerator of all leftovers and looked into all the baskets and drawers.  Then I looked them all over and wrote out a list of things I might make with the items I'd pulled.  I've shared all this in a separate post because frankly I was surprised myself at how far my ideas went with what I had!

Then when I'd stacked all those dirty dishes in the sink and cleared the counters again, I took the leg quarters and started cutting them apart.  I packed two thighs to a package and four legs to a package.  I told John in future, given the size of the thighs I'll likely pack those one to a packet.  Truth time: I'm not fond of dark meat.  I will eat legs and thighs in only a few recipes.  Mostly I will use the thighs for the purpose of having cooked chicken for pot pies, soups and casseroles.   I can use the legs for frying, barbecuing, or deviled (a sort of dry barbecue) and teriyaki.   The thighs are really good as curry chicken, or in Arroz con Pollo but beyond that I'll use them as 'stock meat' so to speak.   So there are uses for them but I will use them slowly and  if I stock up on another sale I'll package thighs singly for the purpose of making recipes rather than a meal.

I looked at the packaging as I cut them open.  Originally marked at $1.49 a pound I paid just about $10.50 for all three packs at 69c a pound.  I put up six packets of 2 thighs each and three packets of four legs and I also did about a half a quart bag of fat/extra skin that I will render into schmaltz.  

All of this work took me well into early afternoon.  I made up a lunch of shredded bbq chicken sandwiches and added to the coleslaw left from our meal on Saturday to make enough for two generous servings and that was our lunch.   

I'd sworn I was going to rest after lunch but you know I didn't.  Instead I rinsed dishes and put them  in the dishwasher and then folded the clothes from the line...and THEN I sat down to rest.  And realized I have no clue at the moment what supper will be, but there's food in the house and something will present itself as a viable option come time for making supper tonight.  I at least have options.

Also after lunch, we had a return call from the investment counselor who had been handling our retirement funds.  We'd spoken to him on Friday and I'm proud to report that with his care and handling we'd regained our lost footing and a wee bit more besides.  We'd discussed our options with him and he'd suggested we put about 50% of our money into a 3 year annuity account.  When we spoke yesterday he said we'd lost some money that morning and told us how much.  It was enough to make us aware that the market really is more volatile than any of us wanted to believe but not disastrous.  However, he thought we'd best put all of our funds into the annuity which is a guaranteed safe account and we agreed.   

After we got off the phone with him John said for the ninetieth time that he 'wasn't worried about it at all' which I think is a bit far fetched given his concern over why I spent $80 on an item but he went on to say that he hoped I felt better about it all.  I told him I felt we'd only been good stewards to see where we were and to determine how we wanted to proceed and that's truth.   My big concern, and it triggered some anxiety, was John's shoulder shrugging when I'd ask about the funds and what we should do with them.  That sort of attitude I don't understand at all, even when I'm the first to say that I am assured we'll be fine...But it's rather like having a car that you leave unlocked with keys in the ignition on the street.  Maybe nobody will bother it and then again maybe someone will.  It's good sense to make sure it's locked and to know where the keys are.

Ugh...speaking of car keys, I lost one last week and we've turned over two houses and gone through my car umpteen times and have yet to find it.  We happened to have asked about getting another copy of that same key because Katie was using the car and locked her keys inside.  It was at that point I realized I didn't have a key to it but John fortunately did.  Anyway, we went to see a locksmith and a key for that car will be $95.  Now Katie has her own car and gave me back the key one evening last week and I came home but where's that key?  I've retraced my steps a hundred times.  Four people have looked for it in every imaginable possible place and a few that were impossible and still no key.   I've put it to prayer but at this point, I'm honestly thinking that key is good and lost.   John did say we'd get another but if I happened to find it after we got it, to just keep

Yesterday afternoon I started a book on my Kindle.  It's not my usual sort of book but it is entertaining enough that I soared through the first 24 chapters.  It's called The Transformation of Mimi Finnegan by Whitney Dineen.  It sort of reminds me of Sophie Kinsella's Shopholic series in that it's fun, romantic, and keeps the interest without being overly graphic.  In fact, thus far it's been kissing and not much else which is just the way I like a book.  Leave it to my imagination and I'll fill in the blanks myself, thank you very much. 

Tuesday:  It got very hot yesterday afternoon with heat indexes well over 100 in most areas.  When I went out to my car, which sits in the shade of our carport under the shade of a big pecan tree, the temperature there read 95F.   Goodness!  We had a very pleasant, sometimes chilly sort of June but it looks like the preamble to July is going to be right about normal.

I knew the AC had been running non-stop yesterday afternoon and when I'd checked our thermostat it was not keeping up the temperature close to where we had it set.  I pulled all the black out curtains on the western side of the house and that helped lower the indoor temperatures by 2 degrees which was closer to the thermostat setting.  

I made the Buffalo Chicken Strip Salad for our supper last night with a homemade blue cheese dressing and home made croutons.  John was very happy with the meal overall and said so two or three times which rather surprised me.  He's not really a fan of buffalo chicken but did say he'd like this meal again during the summer, so yay! for a Leftover Makeover that was satisfying and delicious and a hit with us both!

And I made a book recommendation yesterday...well the romance changed after Chapter 24 and I blushed as I read it, so I'll leave it up to you if it's something you'd want to read or not.  I'll see how it goes from here but if that keeps up I may never know how the story ends.

This morning, I was awake shortly after 7am and lying there contemplating the day when I got a text from Amie asking if I was up.  I'm telling you, my children are all convinced I still rise at 5:30am just as I did in the days when John went off to work and they all went to school.  

Nothing dire or dramatic but just a quick question and then a lot of chatter.  I started muffins while she talked to John and then settled to chat with her over my coffee.  Not a bad start to my day though the muffins went a tad long in the oven.

I still have half a jar of applesauce even after making muffins.  I think I'm going to make an applesauce snack cake and put it in the freezer but that will be for tomorrow as I've no desire to heat up the house in the afternoon.

I put 2 small pieces of frozen beef smoked sausage on to cook and slipped outdoors to plant chives, more zinnias, cosmos, columbine, and Bells of Ireland.   I meant to go back out and sprinkle them in but I guess this afternoon's rain settled them all in nicely.  It was nice outdoors at that early hour.  Warm, goodness yes, it was, but the quails were 'bob bob white' calling back and forth and the other birds were singing and it was just lovely.

Back in to have our breakfast.  The muffins were tasty and I put 8 into the freezer.

After I'd done a few household tasks, I mixed up the potato doughnut dough.  It's a very soft dough overall, or at least mine was.  I am sure part of the reason was that my butter was more melted than softened.  I only have a six doughnut pan and the ones in it turned out gorgeous but in the interest of hurrying along with oven use, I put the rest on a baking sheet.  They look a bit deflated.  And the doughnut holes look like tiny biscuits.  Never mind the looks, they taste just lovely though baked doughnuts do not have the power to adhere sugar to themselves.  I'll have to glaze them or dip in butter and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.  We opted for plain ones this morning when we sampled.  I had 18 doughnuts and 18 holes.  I put six in the fridge for us and 16 doughnuts and 18 holes in the freezer.

I worked on Bible study after I started a load of dishes in the dishwasher.  Then I worked on my Pre-Algebra lesson for the day.  I did some necessary bookkeeping on our check register and made lunch.

Lunch today was a treat in more ways than one.  I had a pricey (overpriced if you ask me) hot dog but they were super long.  In fact, I cut the hotdogs almost in half to make them stretch a bit further!  They were about the size of average hot dogs then.  So we had two each.   I also made us chocolate shakes.  

Now John is very aware that we have no ice cream on hand so he had to know how I managed chocolate shakes.   I explained that I had frozen bananas in the freezer (gathering another fragment) which I'd blended with cold milk and chocolate syrup.  It made a nice thick shake and tasted good, too  I told him it was an easy way to add a dairy and a fruit to our meal.  I joked that the potato chips would have to count as our veg for that meal, lol.

I had pulled out a package of Boneless beef short ribs to thaw but didn't want to barbecue them.  John suggested I make them like a pot roast.  Only I have no potatoes on hand...He said "Then save it for tomorrow!  We'll go get some potatoes then since it's payday. "   This is not our actual payday but we do get a small check each month on the first of the month and he likes to pick up a few little things with that check.  I'll check sales at all three of the main stores before we go but I know that most of the produce and dairy will still be the best buys unless there are remarkable sales.  At any rate I'll have a good idea of what the best price is on any like sales items.

I pulled a casserole out of the freezer to thaw.  I'll likely reheat it in the microwave.  I'll serve with salad and green beans.

I mixed up liquid plant fertilizer and gave the potted rose, mandevillas, ferns, gardenia and hydrangea bush.   Then I dosed up the houseplants.  It's finally warm enough at night I can put the orchids outdoors which is a good six weeks later than I usually do this.

We had a nice rain shower this afternoon.  I won't need to water a thing.

Wednesday:  Grocery day.  I won't be doing too much more shopping this month, though I do have a portion of my allotment left for the month.  Anyone else ever have the "But I neeeedddd..." crises after coming home?  I do need eggs, for a fact.  The half dozen in our fridge is not going to last us through the weekend but I plan to purchase those at a store in the next town where a 5 dozen flat costs about 9c per egg which is a good buy for our area.  Truth though, we've got plenty of food on hand and all we'll likely need the rest of the month will be more produce in a week or two.  I'll watch sales and see if there's anything I can take advantage of to help stock up the pantry a little more.   And I'm telling my crises head voice to just hush up!

I was careful today and cut back in several areas at Aldi but even so we hit a higher mark than we typically do when we shop there.  Prices are up a bit.  Meat is up but not crazy stupid shocking prices per pound such as I saw in that market next town over.  I bought a Bottom round roast that cost $18...We'll get many meals off that but it's not a meat meal I'll just throw on the table any day of the week.  It's a Sunday dinner sort of roast or a special occasion roast in my opinion.   One of those lovely whole roasters and a pound of ground beef, two packets of uncured beef hot dogs and a package of turkey bacon and I had spent a cool $30 right there on meats.  I'm glad we've such an ample supply in the freezer at present, though we might tend to cluck a bit as the month runs on because chicken is the best price at present.

Bess stopped by to borrow a button, which is a lovely neighborly sort of thing isn't it.  I was certain I had one of the type she'd mentioned needing and I did.  She came in just as we sat down to breakfast and I offered her one of our doughnuts.  She was amazed they had potato in them.  Then she offered me whey from her yogurt and cheese making.  Apparently she'd been freezing it but thought I might want to substitute it for water in my weekly loaf of bread.  I look forward to her bringing me some of that.  She mentioned she'd made yogurt off her own starter for about six batches and felt it was time for new starter.  I offered her some of my frozen yogurt starter that I've set aside from the last purchases of plain yogurt I've made.  It was a short visit but a housewifely sort of visit and I enjoyed that very much.

We left late this morning, almost noon.  I wanted to look over sales sheets for the stores since all our sales mostly start on Wednesday except for one.  I missed some sales today that I'd love to take advantage of, but I got those that were most important to us which was to stock up on mayonnaise since I was down to one jar, and Gramma's Fried Chicken.  I told John to buy the cold chicken and there was good reason for it.  If we buy it cold, then we don't smell it all the way home and no on has to have 'just one piece' before it gets put in the freezer!

We did not stop for lunch today.   John brought me out a yogurt parfait from the produce department.  I reheated burritos for him when we got home.  

I started supper right away.  John had asked me to cook the short ribs as a pot roast.  I didn't have potatoes then but we bought a 10 pound bag today.  I gathered up another fragment and used two packets of dried vegetable soup mix in the short ribs, along with potatoes and onions and water.  I hadn't planned to use that soup but I've had it on hand for a long while and I never got around to making it as soup nor used in the recipe I'd bought it for.  It was so good!  We've got plenty of leftover meat and the broth will be especially tasty for soup or gravy.  And there's another fragment I need to make good use of.

We got rained on while we were out today but there hadn't been as much here in our area, so John was able to go out to mow the lawn this afternoon. 

I harvested some basil this evening when I came in from picking Caleb up at nursery.  I've had a mighty small harvest from my efforts to 'garden' thus far this year but I'm not going to give up.  Nope.  I feel sure I can figure this out and have a remarkable harvest from a small plot once again.  If at first you don't one motto but our family motto is more important to me to quote: It's far better to do something and fail than to do nothing and succeed.

Thursday:  Yesterday afternoon when I returned home, I was puzzled by the largely unmown bottom portion of the yard.  John had started it but then left it.  Since I'd noted he'd done the whole back yard and was working on the path when I left I thought surely he'd have finished it by the time I returned but no there he was, sitting in the shade on the back porch and completely unaware he'd left a whole terrace with long grass.  He wasn't pleased when I asked if it had been too wet to finish mowing...but he also wasn't eager to go back and get on the mower again!  I couldn't blame him because it was plenty hot outdoors.   He went down this morning as soon as the grass was dry and got that finished off.  Then he went on over to do Sam's yard.

I didn't really knock myself out doing much.  I started off well.  I made the bed and dressed right away when I got up.  I started our oatmeal for breakfast and when we'd eaten I slipped outdoors to dump compost, but I noted there were a few weeds along the way...Well one thing led to another.  I remembered I'd seen morning glory coming up in the corner bed and decided I'd best get them up before they started to twine and strangle the gardenia.  I was busy pulling away when I heard a truck or so I thought.  

I straightened up and looked but there was nothing there.  And so I went back to weeding and again heard a truck.  This time I turned around and saw a delivery truck sitting at the end of the driveway.  Well I walked down to meet them they brought out the box and I walked back to get it and then they drove all the way up the drive and turned around to leave.   I hadn't planned to get all that exercise.  I'd only meant to walk across the yard to dump the compost!

After I got back indoors, I sat down to cool off and then cleared up the kitchen.  I was done after that. 

While John was off mowing, I set up a dozen outfits.  I'd had a little inspiration when I lay some things on my chair and it was easy enough to piece together outfits after starting with the outfit that inspired me.  I should be good for outfits to choose from for the whole of this month now. 

I made a roast beef salad for sandwiches.  John was iffy about that.   He ended saying he'd liked it right well but I'll likely not make it again any time soon, mostly because we don't typically eat roast beef much in the summer months.

I ended staying with Caleb a little longer this evening than I have been doing.  When I'd left home, I'd meant to pick up take out somewhere for us but given how late I was out, I headed home and we ate from the fridge.  I had made burritos from leftover turkey tenderloin and refried beans and that was very good indeed.

Friday:  I had planned a play morning with the boys so they arrived just as we ate breakfast this morning.  We had a grand time.  Part of what we did today for 'fun' was to frost some of those potato doughnuts I'd made and then cover them with red/white/blue sprinkles.  The boys took them home along with Happy 4th of July cards they made and two of my little American flags.   

Katie came in while Sam was here chatting with John.   The boys are delighted to see Aunt Katie and were super excited to see her.   She brought me three huge tomatoes their neighbor had dropped off at her house.  I was glad to have them, since the tomatoes at Aldi this week were overly ripe.

The boys ate and ate.  Grapes, peaches, hot cocoa, chocolate milk, waffles, bacon, M&Ms.  I don't mind feeding them if they will eat but I'm not keen on waste.  I get that from Granny.  However, the boys ate everything put before them today.  And yes, I served them bacon and waffles for lunch.   They got to operate the toaster to reheat the frozen waffles (homemade) and loved they could 'help'.

Sam gifted us a tv antenna and gave me a dozen eggs today.  Goodness I do appreciate that as we didn't buy eggs this week.

I took off trash after I took the boys home.

I have no idea what's for supper tonight...sigh.  A place I find myself too often these days.  I do have a bit of the short rib meat left, and some broth so I might make a fruit salad and have beef hash.  It will be easy enough and that leaves me time to think of what we'll have for meals tomorrow.

I hope you all have a really lovely holiday weekend no matter how you celebrate it with family or without.  John and I will be alone this weekend and that's quite all right.  

Come share how you saved this week...

(C) Terri Cheney
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